After researching the top marketing trends of 2018, no matter the source, the majority of topics include social media, influencer marketing, video marketing, artificial intelligence, and marketing software. Granted, all of these tactics are extremely important to create a thorough marketing mix, it is essential that as marketers and media planners, foundational marketing strategies are not lost. These practices, such as direct mail, have been used for years, and are still highly relevant and effective today.
The first reported use of direct mail dates back to 1888, when Sears sent out printed mailers to potential customers. These printed mailers, promoting their latest product offerings gained popularity very quickly. However, over 100 years later, as more companies started using this tactic, our mailboxes – which has now transitioned to our emails – are inundated with countless messages and offers. This influx of “junk mail” – either via snail mail or email, is not enjoyable. So, the key to direct mail, just as with any marketing tactic, is to make it relevant, personal and unique.
Direct mail is so successful because it takes advantage of deep and intuitive part of the human experience that is giving, receiving and handling tangible objects, as determined in a study by UK Royal Mail, The Private Life of Mail. The emotional connection of receiving a tangible object results in a higher recollection rate and also makes the customer feel more valued. This tactic creates a more authentic relationship between marketer and consumer.
Simply put, finding a voice in an extremely chaotic and cluttered world is essential for marketers. CBS News has reported that people view almost 5,000 ads per day, up from 500 ads a day back in the 1970s. This is due to the mass amount of media. Direct mail is a great way to break away from the madness and utilize a much less cluttered channel. The small number of voices that use this channel results in a higher response rate. Email sees about a 0.12% response rate, whereas direct mail is more than 36 times that, at 4.4%, as analyzed by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Marketing will continue to move forward and utilize technology, but we need to ensure that we aren’t losing site of some great, long-standing tactics, especially as new generations gain more spending power.
Anagram who is Agency of Record for brands, uses a variety of channels and tactics including OOH, Radio and Direct Mail. When you think digital marketing, direct mail is probably not first on your list but today it is possible for a prospect or customer online behavior to lead to real-time, action-triggered direct mail. Those visiting a website, clicking on relevant emails, or replying to a comment on a social media site can receive targeted direct mail within days of their visit. By taking these actions, prospects indicate interest, and by following up with them via direct mail to leverage that interest, immediately increases the chances of customer response.
Marketers and media planners are very focused on reaching Millennials, and now Generation Z. There is an overwhelming amount of information stating that this group of people is married to all things digital. And, granted they have grown accustomed to phones, tablets and computers, Gallup has reported that 95% of 18-29 year-olds have a positive response to receiving personal cards and letters. This same report stated that 36% of people under the age of 30 look forward to checking their mailboxes everyday. There is a great opportunity to target this group of people, projected to hold $1.4 trillion in spending power by 2020, in a unique way, that sets itself apart from the mass media craze.
Staying up to date on the latest marketing and advertising trends is crucial. Technology is an amazing way to reach and target customers. However, every now and again, we must remember the “old-school” techniques that brought marketing to where it is today. Don’t be afraid to send a customer a letter or package. What’s most ideal about the world today, you can even send them a follow up email – combining the best of both worlds.